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Story Engineering Paperback – February 24, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 380 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"If you've been searching for an accessible, well-reasoned explanation of how the story building process works, look no further. Here is the roadmap you need to understanding the craft of writing." --Terry Brooks, author of more than twenty five bestselling novels including The Sword of Shannara

"Story Engineering is a master class in novel writing. Reading it is like getting an MFA, without the pesky admissions process or student loans. This book will make you smarter about the craft. Period." --Chelsea Cain, New York Times Bestselling author of Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart

"Larry Brooks's Story Engineering is a brilliant instructional manual for fiction writers that covers what the author calls the `Six Competencies of Successful Storytelling.' The author presents a story telling model that keeps the writer focused on creating a dynamic living and breathing story form concept to the `beat sheet' plan, through story structure and writings scenes. It's a wonderful guide for the beginner and a great refresher for the pro. I guarantee this book will give you new ways to fire up your creativity." --Jim Frey, author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel

"A useful guide explaining how to transfer screenwriting techniques to the craft of novel-writing. Good for screenwriters, too, summarizing the essence of entertaining commercial storytelling with great clarity." --Christopher Vogler, author of The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

"Larry Brooks' groundbreaking book offers both novelists and screenwriters a model for storytelling that is nothing short of brilliant in its simplicity, its depth, its originality and its universality. Following his unique process is guaranteed to elevate your writing to the highest professional level." --Michael Hauge, author of Writing Screenplays That Sell, and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds

About the Author

Larry Brooks is a critically acclaimed best-selling author of six psychological thrillers (including Darkness Bound, Pressure Points, Serpents Dance and others), in addition to his work as a freelance writer and writing instructor. He is the creator and editor of Storyfix.com, one of the leading instructional writing sites on the internet. His website is www.storyfix.com.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (February 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582979987
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582979984
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (380 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Larry Brooks is the author of six critically-acclaimed thrillers, and the guy behind www.storyfix.com, named by Writers Digest Magzine to their "101 Best Website for Writers" for the past six years. His latest novels are DEADLY FAUX and THE SEVENTH THUNDER, published by Turner Publishing, who has also re-released his four prior novels as trade paperbacks. He is also the author of three bestselling writing books, including his latest, "Story Fix: Transform Your Novel From Broken to Brilliant."

All three titles are published by Writers Digest Books, and have been #1 bestsellers in one or more Amazon.com categories.

Brooks was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He graduated with a degree in marketing communications from Portland State University, where he attended in the off-season during a five-year run as a professional baseball player in the Texas Rangers organization. He was a pitcher, and to this day is still undergoing medical and therapy procedures from years of trying to throw a ball through a wall.

This led to his first published writing: a magazine article on the life of a minor league pitcher. Still not keen on a writing career - like most of the newly graduated, he had his eye on the money back then - his first stints in a business suit had more than a few more swings and misses. He says he was history's worst stockbroker for the world's largest brokerage firm, then the world's worst personnel manager in a now-defunct major department store (remember what Dirty Harry said about Personnel managers?), in addition to a couple of other humbling career fliers he chooses to forget. Each crashing career resulted in another published magazine piece lampooning the experience, and his interest in writing began to emerge as his best - and perhaps last - viable career option.

In 1983 he answered an ad for a "script writer" at a small audio-visual production company - eight graphic designers and a slide projector. Cut to 1996, when Brooks was the executive creative director and a partner of a nationally-prominent agency with over 100 employees. The business was sold in 1999, at which point Brooks ran toward the career he'd been quietly cultivating on the side for the prior two decades - writing novels and screenplays, and ultimately launching a successful blog that has led to three bestselling writing books.

In late 2002, Brooks' script for the adaptation of DARKNESS BOUND was named a finalist in the prestigious Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the folks who bring you the Oscars. It was one of ten scripts selected out of 6044 submissions, which he hopes you find impressive, especially since he didn't end up winning one of the five Fellowships. He got the t-shirt anyway.

Brooks teaches and speaks at writing conferences, workshops and at the behest of writing groups, appearing nationally and internationally.

Brooks is very happily married to his wife of 20 years, Laura, an artist and interior designer, who wants you to know she "is not the Dark Lady" (the villainess from his first novel), though central casting might disagree. He also has a wonderful son, Nelson, who is 25 and an account manager for Oracle after a degree from USC; three supportive step-children, Tracy, Scott and Kelly; and seven step-grandchildren who have no clue what "Poppy" does for a living.

Larry and Laura live Scottsdale, AZ, where the heat and the spectacularly bad drivers are challenging.

Feel free to contact Larry at his website (www.storyfix.com), or email him at storyfixer@gmail.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I listened to a Larry brooks interview on The Creative Penn.com and it lit my proverbial light bulb. He discussed the very problem that has kept me drafting and butchering my stories while never hitting a sequence of events that sang to me. I immediately bought his book for my kindle.

Story Engineering delivered, provided the missing ingredient. The book was worth the money spent and the time spent. I'm hopeful and excited to put his methods into use.

That said, this book was truly painful to read. The Six Competencies were buried in extraneous pontifications, excessive rebuttal of his critics, and attitude--like his deep seated bias for certain types of writing. To make maters worse, these lectures, defenses, and opinions were repeated ad nauseam in each and every section. My head hurts from trying to sift out the wheat buried in all that chaff.

It's apparent that Mr. Brooks has a chip on his shoulder that he's extremely touchy about. He's obviously received strong ego-crushing criticisms of his storytelling method. He wastes pages endlessly trying to convince us that his method is the only real way to write successfully. Failure to use his structure means you will NOT get published. The organic writers, and other pantsers, who have still gotten published are using his structure but by different name. Okay, good to know, but this message was received in first chapter. Fine, reiterate it occasionally to drive the point home. But he replays this defense over and over even within chapters.

Hey, we had already bought and are reading the book! The author's job was now to present and teach us the method clearly and concisely, and then step back and let the reader/writer fly, or not. Writers will either buy into the structure or they won't.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read dozens of craft books. Story Engineering moved me enough to write my first review. I love what he said; I hate the way he said it.
While I found the method behind his madness enlightening and inspiring, there was far too much argumentative redundancy in this text. The constant barrage of 'you will not get published if you don't do this' and picking on other writing methods was tedious. I got it the first time. And every time after that. By the end, I felt like the author believed his whole audience to be ignorant. Brooks' delivery of the information was antagonistic throughout most of the book. So much so, that I felt like I should argue, but I agreed wholeheartedly with his structures. He was preaching to the choir. By the tenth time he bashed creating any other way - those people that disagreed wouldn't still be reading anyway. Let it go.
I have the kindle version. Too many too-wordy sentences that often straddled pages were a hassle to try to consume. Typos always jar me, and there were plenty. One, that I wish I'd marked so I could share the location, where the word CAN tried to stand in for the word CAN'T. I can see the usefulness of similes to explain concepts to people who just don't get it. There were so many that he must feel all of his readers just won't get it.
Had these core competencies been laid out in a concise, clear, and less argumentative manner, I would have rated Story Engineering 5 stars easily. I believe a book targeting professional writers, and even wannabes, could have been--should have been--presented more professionally.
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Format: Paperback
The six core competencies of successful writing, according to Larry Brooks, are: concept, theme, character, structure, scenes, and voice. The first four are elemental components; the last two relate to execution.
And that was the summary this book needed. Honestly, I read this book and I had to search for a place in the book where the main point of it could be easily discovered. There are two helpful pages tucked at the end of the book (218-219). Otherwise? Good luck. This book does not seem heavily edited.
But first, the positives: Brooks has been immensely helpful in providing writers with an alternative model of story-writing other than "pantsing," as he calls it. Since Stephen King's memoir "On Writing," I've had this image of the writing process in my mind where you just feel your way forward, write the whole thing about three times, and hopefully discover a story along the way. That's pantsing: flying by the seat of your pants.
Brooks offers an alternative. In short, plan ahead. Sketch the story, all of it, from characters to scenes, ahead of time. That was phenomenally helpful. King and others give the impression that anything other than pantsing it is not true art. Brooks knocks that idea flat. It's about the story first; art second. It has to be a story before it can be art. Tell a good story; make good art.
Brooks' six competencies may also be helpful. I'll have to go back and think about it because they were drowned in a deluge of analogies and lists. Oh! the metaphors. Oh! the lists. What I'm about to say may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not: This book contained thousands of analogies/illustrations/examples/metaphors. I estimate an average of a dozen a page. Seriously. And lists. Lists sprouting all over the place!
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